Where’s Your Famous Atmosphere – Newcastle 5th Of April 2014

I was surprised in the week approaching this match at the trepidation Newcastle fans were approaching this fixture with. With hindsight, they were right to be worried. After a level opening to the match, Newcastle folded like a cheap pair of trousers once Juan Mata put United into the lead in the 39th minute with a fantastic free kick. Anders Lindegaard stopped picking his nose for the day and he made a couple of excellent saves early in the match, particularly from Papiss Cisse in the 24th minute.

David Moyes took a gamble with this side today, obviously with Wednesday night in mind. That it resulted in United’s best league result of the season thus far is a happy coincidence for Moyes and a bit of long overdue good luck for him too. I’m not sure if he knew just how well Shinji Kagawa and Juan Mata would play together but he will know after todays performance, just in case he had any doubt. Kagawa along with Javier Hernadez were instrumental in United’s 2nd goal, scored with casual ease by Mata. Hernandez and Kagawa linked up again in the 65th minute to make the score 3-0 and finish off any lingering hope of Newcastle getting back into the game. This gave prompt to possibly the earliest exodus I’ve ever seen a football ground from a pathetic and risibly overrated home support. People leave early for all kinds of reasons but never to this volume.

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Milburn Stand rapidly emptying immediately after United’s 3rd goal

We are the Geordies, the Geordie boot boys,
For we are mental, we are mad,
We’re the loudest football supporters,
the world has ever had…

United fans got bored with the nearby mute Toon platoon in the Leazes and the Milburn Stand. We couldn’t hear a peep from the rest of the ground either although to be fair, we were so high up in the Leazes Stand that we could hear passing aircraft before anybody else in the ground. The atmosphere in the ground from reds was quite subdued for the first 15 minutes. I put this down to the fact that everybody in there was so knackered after climbing the seven levels to get there, the last thing on anybodies mind was singing songs of any kind. Reds tried engaging the locals with songs like “where’s your famous atmosphere”. With a wit that the New’astle fans are not famous for, they stated very hurtfully and less than half heartedly that we were “just a shit Man City”. United fans opened the songbook with tunes in homage to Roy Keane, George Best, Jaap Stam, Andy Cole. The confused look on the faces of the knowledgeable locals (© every clichéd commentator) was a picture of vacant confusion. As the Geordies gradually left the ground to virtual desolation, Adnan Januzaj made the score 4-0 in injury time. This was much to the chagrin of the equine division of Northumbia Police.

Bud the horse gets belted by Newcastle united fan Barry Rogerson in April 2013

Ant & Dec, Mark Knopfler, Jimmy Nail, Sting, Tory Blair, those Geordies that were always crying on the telly in the 1990’s and Alan Sheeera, your boys took one hell of a beating

In Serene Indifference – Manchester, 7th of December 2013

Eagle’s Still Flying. Manchester, 14th of September 2011

United played Benfica three times in two famous European Cup ties in the 1960’s. Barring friendlies (one which in 1992, was Eric Cantona’s debut for United), after 1968 United went 37 years without playing the Lisboa eagles and then, like a bus, we’ve now played them six times in six years. It’s a sign of both overkill and the times that I only know two people that have gone to Lisbon for tonights match where once upon a time I would’ve known tens if not hundreds of people who’d have gone.

Ryan Giggs, Darren Fletcher and Antonio Valencia made a first start to a competitive match this season. A far less welcome first start of the season goes to the bloody awful black & blue hooped shirts who’s only redeeming feature to me is that it’s not as bad as the Tesco bag away shirts United used in the mid 1990’s. I sometimes think that the people who design Uniteds away shirts are on a diet of bad acid. Can anybody tell me what’s wrong with having United play in red as first choice and a white shirt when having to change ?

United started well but then Benfica got a grip on the game with Cardozo scoring past the impressive Anders Lindegaard on 24 minutes. Giggs came up with a moment of magic just before half time to equalise. The match ended 1-1 and tonight I think Sir Alex Ferguson just about got away with resting Young and playing an increasingly ineffective Michael Carrick. I believe that a full strength United side would’ve beaten Benfica tonight.

It’s a real coup for ITV to get the refreshing Roy Keane as a panellist for the match, his no nonsense analysis contrast sharply with the drone of the pride of Crawley, Gareth Southgate. For some reason over the last couple of seasons, ITV have developed a penchant for conducting their half time and post match analysis pitchside. Maybe it saves them the expense of hiring a commentary booth in these times of austerity (we’re in it together and all that) but tonight they’ve come unstuck. Adrian Chiles, Gareth Southgate & Roy Keane struggled to make themselves heard with the healthy lungs of Angus Young  (AC/DC) singing, playing so loud over the stadium tannoy, they could’ve been giving a live performance in the centre circle, à la Monday night football on SKY Sports in 1992. They were stood in front of the United fans and once the AC/DC CD had been turned off, they were serenaded by United fans with their extended repertoire of songs in homage to Keane.